Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker received in the wake of an ongoing sexual harassment investigation. Tucker is accused of harassing rape survivor and activist Brenda Tracy, who had previously spoken to Tucker’s team. On Tuesday, Tucker released a lengthy statement responding to the notice where he argues that “other motives are at play” in the school’s decision. Tucker claims that Michigan State “ignored its own policies in pushing a biased investigation” into the claims of harassment from Tracy.
“Let’s be clear. I don’t believe MSU plans to fire me because I admitted to entirely consensual, private relationship with another adult who gave one presentation at MSU, at my behest, over two years ago,” Tucker said in the statement.
Tucker proceeded to claim that Michigan State has had knowledge of the information “on which it supposedly relies to end my contract since at least March 2023” and that only the public revealing of the school’s investigation has prompted action in the form of termination. He argues that the school has denied him due process by terminating him weeks before a scheduled hearing in the case (Oct. 5), pointing out an “about-face” from athletic director Alan Haller who initially claimed Tucker’s indefinite suspension was an “interim measure” while the investigation continued.
Tucker was placed on administrative leave without pay on Sept. 10, shortly after the allegations were made public. The school argued in Monday’s termination notice that the coach’s “unprofessional and unethical behavior” violated the “moral turpitude” clause of his contract, and that his admission of certain actions involving Tracy brought “public disrespect, contempt and ridicule upon the university.”
Tracy’s complaint against Tucker includes allegations of unwelcome advances, including masturbating during a phone call without her consent. Tucker admitted to the masturbating but claimed it was part of a consensual, personal relationship.
In firing Tucker for cause, Michigan State can avoid paying him more than $79 million that is remaining on his contract, a deal that he signed in Nov. 2021 in the midst of an 11-win campaign that ended in a Peach Bowl win. Last season was a disappointing encore as the Spartans went 5-7 and then lost multiple key starters to the transfer portal, including wide receiver Keon Coleman to Florida State and quarterback Payton Thorne to Auburn.
Secondary coach Harlon Barnett was named the interim coach for the remainder of the season, while former long-time Spartans coach Mark Dantonio has returned to the program as an associate coach working off the field.